Before we get into how hydraulic torque tools and light-weight components are helping improve safety for Wind Power installer and turbine manufacturers, let us go back to a little earlier in 2016.
This can also lead to litigation, which some things is
In his final State of the Union, President Obama said,
Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.
If you want to read the entire State of the Union transcript have at it.
While it is true that the cost of wind power surely is much lower in Iowa and Texas than in other states, the President failed to mention a few things:
(1) The impact of federal tax credits have driven much of the cost of wind power down,
In particular, the Production Tax Credit is a crucial subsidy that allows wind energy to compete with energy from fossil fuels.
This tax credit is the driving force behind negative wind power pricing in Texas, according to a 2015 report by the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University and public policy research organization Strata.
Texas also provides many state-level financial incentives for wind power generation.
The Department of Energy estimates that within a decade, wind power will become cost-competitive with fossil fuels without a federal tax incentive.
This can also lead to litigation, which some things is
The White House noted that solar and wind energy prices are now becoming competitive with energy from conventional fuel sources.
(2) Wind-power, has allowed Iowa to attract technology giants Google and Facebook, which each have set up massive data centers powered by Iowa wind farms.
Yet wind and solar suffer from the same problem as they did when Obama moved into the White House.
Without some form of advanced energy storage to capture wind and solar power for longer periods, the growth of renewable energy across the nation’s power grid is probably limited.
Tens of billions of dollars and years of continued research and development will go into energy storage before it’s widely deployed.
(3) Innovation of light-weight components and construction tools make wind power more realistic and safer.
In the interest of brevity, I will focus the remainder of this article on the latter point.
Alternative Component for Alternative Energy Design
In 2013 – Editor of WindPower Engineering Magazine, Paul Dorvk introduced us to a company called Victrex whose (polyaryletherketone) peek polymers are “said to be a good choice when replacing metal wind-turbine components.”…
The logic was simple, “the high performance and light-weight material allows up to a 70% weight reduction.”
Light-weight components have aided advancing turbine technology which has helped make producing wind power cheaper and more efficient.
In some cases, as mentioned earlier — too efficient.
Light-weight components and tools required for the maintenance of wind also enhance safety, which is a growing concern as more wind turbines are assembled.
For example, in the UK the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum of 2015, highlights a steady increase in wind farm accidents. [See complete report]
As with Victrex Peek, companies like AMG Bolting Solutions have taken inspiration from the global shifts in power generation, however, their focus is on safety.
In a recent blog post, we wrote:
“While it is important to make lighter weight hydraulic and pneumatic torque wrench tools for the purposes of ergonomics, it is critical to make light weight ancillary products like hydraulic torque pumps and swivel-friendly hoses to help save lives.”
It continues to highlight that “Along with fall protection, you need fall prevention.”
Sadly, fasteners are not given the first priority in the wind industry, but, faulty and/or improper installation can lead to major costs and safety issues if not given the attention it deserves.
Light-weight components are not only easier to install and maintenance, they reduce the stress placed on the integrity of bolted joints.
The Challenge of Installing and Re-tightening Wind Tower Flange Bolts
Currently, there are no North American structural steel connection design and erection codes for metric bolts required to correctly install wind turbines, and what codes do exist are solely written for bolts up to 1.5” in diameter.
Considering that wind turbines require flange splice bolts of M36, M42, M48, and M64 diameter with Grade 10.9, and other segments of a wind turbines and yaw foundations required M100 bolts, no code means – “Houston we have a problem.”
This is especially a challenge in the wind industry, because a wind engineered bolt connection is exposed to extreme vibrations and dynamic loads.
Plus, the wind industry itself has strict requirements for annual torque checks on the bolts.
To make matters worsts according to Kulak’s, Fisher’s, and Struik’s – “Guide to Design Criteria for Bolted and Riveted Joints”, second edition John Wiley, 1987 [Read the full 354 page report]
Our research found repeated installation of A490 bolts [whose property class is similar to 10.9] achieved the required tension upon initial installation, and one cycle of re-tightening.
The study continued to show, that after repeated tightening of the same bolts resulted in a sharp decline of induced tension.
Fortunately, a group of companies have found an answer.
Light-weight Innovations, Synergistic Solutions
Dokka Fasteners, have been have been serving the wind industry for over 30 years.
They have developed heavy-duty, yet light-weight bolts for every section of a wind turbine that requires “large bolts”.
Nord-Lock is a manufacturer who for nearly 100 years has produced specialty washers.
In 2014, the two companies teamed up to create an innovative “No Need For Re-Tightening” [NNFR] kit.
The ideas is simple, a wedge washer designed to keep a bolt from slipping over time so long as the bolt stud and nut are lubricated, and accurately torqued /tensioned.
Hydraulic Torque Tools Versus Tension For Wind
The NNFR Kit included pre-lubricated Dokka Fasteners bolts, Nord-Lock wedge washers, and tips on what to tighten with a hydraulic torque wrench versus what requires a bolt tensioner.
For example, you can use a hydraulic torque wrench like the TTX Square Drive Series on sections of a wind tower like the nacelle where torque, not pre-load tension is required.
Meanwhile, you need to use a Boltight tensioners on areas designed for wind turbine base bolts where stretching the bolt stud is the best practice.
Innovation in light-weight components and fastening tools are contributing to the success the Wind Industry is experiencing, as highlighted in President Obama’s final State of the Union address.
With future focus on mass storage technology, and increased vigilance toward personnel safety – Wind Power can be a major contributor to what Trump would say is “Making America Great Again”.